China tourist visa requirements are simplified for US citizens making it easier to travel to Tibet

Starting from January 1, 2024, the Chinese Embassy in the United States simplified the application documents requirements for a tourist visa. 

Travelers will no longer be required to submit round-trip air tickets and proof of hotel reservation, itinerary, or invitation letter. When submitting your application, you will still need to include this information, but no proof will be required. 

In addition, in 2024 US citizens can enjoy lower visa application fees, currently set to USD 140 for regular visa service.

IMPORTANT! We highly recommend not to include Tibet in your visa application form, as it can complicate the process. Simply include any city in China where you intend to fly. 

Regular service is currently taking 4 business days.

The news came shortly after visa requirements were lifted for passport holders of 6 countries: France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia. In addition, starting in March, visa-free travel will also become available for Thailand citizens.


  • Passport valid for at least 6 months from the planned travel dates and with at least 2 blank visa pages
  • Photocopy of the bio-page of the passport
  • Application form. You need to fill out the application online, print the form, and sign it. You also need to print out the form submission confirmation page and bring it with you. Fill out the form on the China Online Visa Application (COVA) website.
  • Photocopy of the latest Chinese visa or the Chinese residence permit
  • Proof of Residence (ex: driver’s license, utility bill, bank bill)


Chinese visa

You can apply in person or through an agency located in the United States. Although you don’t have to submit your application in person, you must be in the United States at the time of your application processing. 
You can start applying for your visa in advance, about 2-6 months before your tour starting date.

Please, check the detailed information on the official website of the China Embassy in the United States.

Note, that if you are planning to travel to Tibet through Nepal, there are different visa requirements. You will need to apply for a Chinese group visa at the Embassy in Kathmandu and wait for 3 business days for visa processing.


After you receive your visas, we will apply for all necessary Tibet Travel Permits for you. It usually takes about 15 days to receive your permit. When the permit is ready, we will send it to you. You will need this permit to take a flight or board a train to Tibet. The permit will list the dates of your tour in Tibet and the places that you are planning to visit.


UNESCO World Heritage site Potala Palace in Lhasa
Potala Palace in Lhasa, a UNESCO World Heritage site

The fastest way to reach Tibet is to take a flight to Lhasa Gonggar Airport in the capital of Tibet from one of the main cities in China. The city with the closest connection is Chengdu with 2 international airports and many daily non-stop flights to Lhasa (about 2 hours and 20 minutes). You can also catch a direct flight to Lhasa from all major cities, such as Beijing, Xian, Xining, Kunming, Chongqing, Shangri La, and Lijiang.

Another popular way to reach Lhasa is by taking a train from one of the major cities in China. Although it takes a lot longer, you will see different landscapes along the way, especially when you pass mountain regions. The closest connection is in Xining and the train from Xining to Lhasa takes about 20 hours.

Giant Panda in a breeding center, Chengdu,China


  • CHENGDU: Best for taking a flight to Lhasa with many daily direct flight options
  • XINING: Best for taking a train to Lhasa with the shortest train ride (about 20 hours) and many daily departures
  • KATHMANDU: Best for exploring Nepal and Tibet in one trip


why choose us?

  • Affordable group tour rates and regular departures
  • Always local Tibetan guides and authentic experience
  • Excellent reviews from our clients
  • Absolutely no forced shopping
  • Support local Tibetan businesses
It was really an amazing experience to travel with Wonders of Tibet. Their team is very professional, helpful and considerate! The itinerary is very well designed, communication is very smooth the whole time, I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to visit Tibet!

Becky, review from TripAdvisor



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